DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Green Book: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Review

Green Book (2018) movie poster Green Book

Theatrical Release: November 16, 2018 / Running Time: 130 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Peter Farrelly / Writers: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortensen (Frank Anthony "Tony Lip" Vallelonga), Mahershala Ali (Dr. Donald Shirley), Linda Cardellini (Dolores Vallelonga), Sebastian Maniscalco (Johnny Venere), Dimiter D. Marinov (Oleg), P.J. Byrne (Record Exec), Mike Hatton (George), Joe Cortese (Gio Loscudo), Don Stark (Jules Podell), Iqbal Theba (Amit), Tom Virtue (Morgan Anderson), Brian Stepanek (Graham Kindell)

Buy Green Book from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital • 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital • DVD • Prime Video

Race has been on the nation's minds a lot lately. It's also been on Hollywood's minds a lot. The issue of race in Hollywood usually comes down to black people, their representation and portrayals or lack thereof.
So we can celebrate Crazy Rich Asians as a win for diversity and inclusion, but commercial success was that movie's prize. A number of movies about black people were the ones that had a shot at awards and were discussed and debated for the six months that started with the late-summer festivals and concluded with the Oscars themselves at the end of February.

People began talking about the subject before 2017's Oscars even took place. Could Marvel's absurdly lucrative Black Panther break through the ceiling that hangs over superhero movies? The Academy even invented and then cancelled a Best Popular Movie award category that would ensure recognition for it. Late summer brought BlacKkKlansman, a film that seemed sure to give Spike Lee the Oscar nominations that havd mostly eluded him before. Those two entertaining, very different films were universally praised by critics, but it's a different race-minded film with a different color in its title that proved to be both a bigger contender and a bigger winner in 2018's major awards.

Green Book opens with the declaration that it is "inspired by a true story", which is usually a nice way of saying extensive dramatic license has been taken. I'm not sure that's the case (though pre-ceremony thinkpieces suggested it is) and I'm not sure that it matters because remaining true to a story known by few and that personally affected fewer is not high on the list of concerns this movie raises.

In 2018's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, a greasy, racist Italian-American family man (Viggo Mortensen) becomes personal assistant and friend to a suave, gay black musician (Mahershala Ali).

It's late 1962. Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a.k.a. Tony Lip, is a lifelong Bronx resident who works as a bouncer at the Copacabana. A fat Italian-American family man with a thick accent, a modest vocabulary, and too many disgusting habits to mention, Tony is highly regarded by the community for his skill at handling messes. We see one such mess early on when he has to repeatedly punch out an unruly patron. With the Copa closing for months of renovations, Tony is suddenly in need of work and he gets called in to interview for a driving job for some doctor.

The doctor, it turns out, is accomplished pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Moonlight Oscar winner Mahershala Ali), who is about to embark on an eight-week tour through the Deep South right up until Christmas Eve. Shirley is an African-American and this being 1962, Tony is racist. How racist? Racist enough to dispose of drinking glasses in which his wife (Linda Cardellini) served lemonade to a couple of black handymen. There are people way more racist than Tony whom we will encounter. He is less fazed by Shirley's race than the job's pay and the nature of the work, which Shirley describes as more personal assistant than mere chauffeur.

With Tony's wife agreeing to him being gone for two months and the Doctor agreeing to pay him $125 a week plus expenses, Tony and Shirley hit the road in a bright blue Cadillac to start in the Midwest and work their way south to increasingly hostile and prejudiced environments. Shirley and his trio, comprised with a Russian violinist and an American cellist, are to perform for wealthy and important white people. But the artist still runs into narrow minds and backwards thinking, like when he and Tony are pulled over and thrown in jail for driving at night through a neighborhood where black people can't be on the road after dark.

Ehhh, the white guy (Viggo Mortensen) likes fried chicken! Stop breaking my balls!

Directed and co-written by Peter Farrelly, who's known for the outrageous comedies he directed and co-wrote with his brother Bobby like Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, Green Book is something of a standard issue road trip buddy comedy. At its end, it is flagrantly derivative of John Hughes' Thanksgiving masterpiece Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
Before that, it's more akin to something like Driving Miss Daisy.

The two lead characters that drive the film are very different. Tony is an idiot with a good heart, a cringeworthy Italian caricature you never feel comfortable with Mortensen playing. Shirley is a sheltered loner. With the help of the car radio, Tony introduces him to such musicians as Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, and Chubby Checker. He also introduces his well-mannered, well-dressed boss to Kentucky Fried Chicken. That's about the height of the comedy here: the black guy doesn't know black musicians and fried chicken, but the white guy does. It's not a one-way friendship, though, as Shirley gives Tony some much-needed guidance to improve the letters he writes to his wife back home.

Mere weeks before this opened, The Hate U Give demonstrated that it is possible to consider race relations in a tasteful, tactful, thought-provoking way, as did the even more under-the-radar Blindspotting a few months before that. Green Book doesn't have any interest in that, though. It would much rather give us broad characterization, old stereotypes, and the kind of history lesson that might leave a seventh grade social studies class feeling woke. To the intelligent, conscientious adult, it's a clumsy, embarrassing, manipulative display that is so clearly designed to make us feel warm, fuzzy, and good. Because if a thick-headed product of a racist time can become close friends with a cultured black man who also happens to be gay (a passing note improbably taken in stride), how bad can things in this world be?

My view of Green Book will forever be shaped by my first impression of it, which came in mid-October on the opening night of the Twin Cities Film Fest. The film played to a near sell-out crowd with producer Jeff Burke in attendance and was eaten up by the overwhelmingly white public, who laughed where they were supposed to and stood up and applauded at the end. If I saw the movie at a typical weeknight screening with the public on hand, I'm sure it would have gone similarly. If, however, I saw the movie in one of my 10 AM critics-only screenings, the vibe would have been different and I might have been less disgusted.

The prevalent view that critics are cynical and out-of-touch with the public is not off-base, but there are good reasons for that. Critics watch more movies than paying moviegoers. We see the bad ones you don't and the ones that aren't as good as you think because there are better ones you didn't see. We all have different tastes, but we appreciate things we haven't seen before, which are rare to encounter. We appreciate artistry and authenticity. We like when narratives surprise us and when points are subtle and require some thought.

There is nothing subtle about Green Book. Using prejudices of the past as a blanket, the movie just hammers home lessons about racism and understanding. It is unfortunate that awards organizations opted to prop this up as great cinema, when it's like an unfunny, heavy-handed, saccharine version of the 1997 Tim Robbins/Martin Lawrence comedy Nothing to Lose, especially in a year full of artful, powerful black tales told by black artists like Barry Jenkins' excellent If Beale Street Could Talk and the timely works I already mentioned above.

Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) brings his musical virtuosity to an unlikely venue -- a black bar -- in an impromptu Christmas Adam performance.

At my screening, it was said that Mortensen gained 50 pounds to play this role and started watching "The Sopranos" almost immediately after getting the script. His level of ethnic caricature is not far from Sacha Baron Cohen's take on a Kazakhstani journalist, but with none of the humor, satire, and wit. He's just this disgusting man who grows increasingly tolerant and protective of his employer. This is as unsavory as the actor's last movie to earn him an Oscar nomination, 2016's Captain Fantastic, was.

There's much more to like about Ali's performance, which earned him his second Oscar in the same category he won two years earlier for Moonlight. Refined, articulate, and with the soul of a poet, Shirley is the character we are supposed to sympathize with and we would if the movie around him weren't so darn graceless.

The product of undeniable but not particularly bothersome category fraud in a year when the only real deserving competition was Can You Ever Forgive Me's Richard E. Grant (so grateful just to be nominated) and Sam Elliott (whose short turn in A Star Is Born
would have amounted to a Lifetime Achievement award), Ali's win should have been Green Book's only one at the Academy Awards. But instead, to the surprise (and disappointment) of many (myself included), it ended up taking Best Picture over Alfonso Cuarσn's personal masterpiece Roma, which apparently had one too many stigmas to overcome as a black and white foreign language film distributed by exhibitor-feared Netflix. Fortunately, besides a place in the history books, Green Book now receives the backlash and heightened scrutiny that comes with winning Best Picture.

Alas, backlash and scrutiny require those not compelled to see the movie to finally do so. For now, Green Book has simply been reaping the benefits of winning the industry's highest honor, namely in the form of its $83 million and counting domestic gross and far more head-scratching $277 million to date worldwide tally. A month after Oscar night, it has continued to place in the top ten at the weekend box office, even though it has been available to own all that time, initially in digital formats and now too in Universal's Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo pack reviewed here.

Green Book: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.00:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 Dolby Atmos/TrueHD (English), 5.1 DTS (French), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English DVS)

DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital ($39.98 SRP), standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP), and on Prime Video


On Blu-ray and DVD, Green Book employs the non-standard 2.00:1 widescreen ratio, for reasons that aren't clear, but apparently that is in line with its theatrical presentation. The Blu-ray's picture is sharp and vibrant, while the default Dolby Atmos 7.1 mix leaves nothing (besides a better movie) to be desired. Italian dialogue is translated by burned-in subtitle.

Legendary director Peter Farrelly ("Osmosis Jones") checks the monitor from the set of "Green Book." Two crew members take a measurement of the front of the Cadillac in which Tony drives Don.


Green Book is joined by just three short bonus features on Blu-ray and DVD, all presented in the same irregular 2.00:1 aspect ratio of the film.

"Virtuoso Performances" (4:10) celebrates
the two lead actors (well, one lead and one supporting if the Academy is still listening) with everyone singing their praises amidst behind-the-scenes footage and some comments from Mortensen and Ali themselves.

"An Unforgettable Friendship" (5:09) contemplates the relationship at the heart of the film, with screenwriter Vallelonga making his dubious claim of being asked to wait until Shirley passed away before telling this story.

Finally, "Going Beyond the Green Book" (4:20) considers both the eponymous handbook and the Jim Crow South that made it necessary. It's the obligatory nod to people of color whose voices are largely otherwise absent from both the film and these bonus features.

The discs open with trailers for On the Basis of Sex, The Bookshop, Boy Erased, A Private War, and, *blinks*, Backdraft 2. These are not accessible by menu and Green Book's own trailer is not included at all.

An insert supplying a code for a digital copy and another for another free digital movie from Universal (if you sign up for email updates from the studio) accompany the plain aquamarine discs inside the slipcovered keepcase.

The main menu loops a short piece of piano score over the film's uncomfortable key art.

Like a 1960s Cyrano de Bergerac, Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) helps Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) write letters to his wife from the road.


The crowd-pleasing Green Book isn't merely problematic. It's flagrantly miscalculated and a crass, often tasteless attempt to make people feel good about race relations with a cartoonish road trip buddy comedy. This should rank among the worst Oscar Best Picture winners for at least as long as any of us live.

Universal's Blu-ray combo pack offers a satisfactory presentation of the film in three formats plus a trio of short, complementary companion featurettes. Its Oscar wins ensure you should see the film, but I would strongly recommend doing so with a rental rather than a purchase you might (and should) regret.

Buy Green Book from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / DVD / Prime Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Oscar Best Picture Winners: Moonlight • Spotlight • The Shape of Water • Birdman • Argo
Now on Blu-ray: Eighth Grade • mid90s • First Reformed
Viggo Mortensen: Eastern Promises • The Road | Mahershala Ali: Moonlight • The Hunger Games: 4-Movie Collection
The Intouchables • Planes, Trains & Automobiles •The Help • Jersey Boys • Detroit
Directed by Peter Farrelly: The Heartbreak Kid • Hall Pass • Kingpin • The Three Stooges • Movie 43
Oscar Contenders: The Hate U Give • Black Panther • BlacKkKlansman • First Man • A Star Is Born • The Favourite • Boy Erased

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed March 23, 2019.

Text copyright 2019 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2018 Universal Pictures, Participant Media, DreamWorks Pictures, Charles B. Wessler Productions, Innisfree Pictures, and Cinetic Media, and 2019 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.